Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 21, 2010

Worship: Boring, or intimidating?

ESSENTIAL ASPECTS OF THE CHURCH
Continuing with excerpts from a book on the Church that I am working on. Let me know what you think.

WORSHIP: BORING OR INTIMIDATING?
Worship, if it is merely regurgitating traditional liturgical form without any personal involvement, is boring. On the other hand, worship as we have been defining it (the definition has been modified because of your comments), can be nothing short of intimidating.

Worship takes place when those who are born again focus by faith on the presence of God in love, respect and wondering amazement with the exclusive desire to please the Lord.

Worship provides access to the holy place of God, and for that reason each one of us knows without having to be told that sin has no place there. Only the very reckless among us are able to ignore the feelings that David expresses in Psalm 15:

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous;
who speaks the truth from his heart
and has no slander on his tongue….

Acute awareness of the holiness of God can lead to feelings of guilt, which make the thought of approaching God quite intimidating. These feelings of guilt are often one of the most important reasons why people find it impossible to truly worship. The definition of worship as focusing on the presence of God by faith, in love, respect and wondering amazement, implies absolute openness before God. It is when we try to be transparent and the presence of God that we realize our own guilt and sinfulness, and our natural reaction to this realization is to try and cover up! The problem is that, the moment we cover up, we close the door to true worship for ourselves.

What is the solution? What did we do about our feelings of guilt when we first became convinced that we had to do something about them?

Verses like the following were probably quoted to most of us by those people who led to us to faith in Jesus Christ:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned we make him out to be a liar and his Word has no place in us.
(1 John 1.7, 9)

Many believers think that these verses of Scripture are meant for “sinners”, i.e. those people who have never come to the Lord in faith, when they ask Him to make them his children. On the contrary, they were meant as much for Christians as for non-Christians.

It is quite clear from the letters of John that they were addressed to Christians. Among the many indications throughout the text of the letters, maybe some of the clearest appear in the following passage:

I write to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children,
because you have known the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
(1 John 2.12-14)

This passage shows that John was writing to people who he considered to be quite well established in the faith. It is therefore obvious that the exhortation about recognizing our own sinfulness in John1.7 applies to all of us, regardless of whether we are believers.

What should we then do about our feelings of guilt? The answer is: exactly what we did at the beginning: Confess with repentance and believe for forgiveness. John says that it does not help to claim that we have not sinned, and that when we try to do that, “we make Him out to be a liar.” We do ourselves a favor by dealing with any feelings of guilt we may have before we start worshipping.

In contrast to the overwhelming feelings of guilt we may experience when we dwell on our own sins, tremendous liberty results from asking forgiveness and believing that God has given us that. The words of Hebrews 10.19-22 should ring in the ears of every worshipper as we focus on the presence of God:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

It is good to bear in mind that the way was prepared for us to enter the Most Holy Place by Jesus, when He presented Himself as a perfect sacrifice before God. A word picture that might be helpful is that the path He followed into the presence of God was marked with drops of the blood of Jesus. Every step we take as we approach God in worship on the path that Jesus prepared for us, therefore, bears the marks of assurance that we have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus. Instead of guilt that prevents us from entering into the presence of God by faith, we can have confidence, because we know that our sins have been “washed away” through the blood of Jesus.

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Responses

  1. Good piece! I like it a lot. It also comes at a good time as we soon enter Holy week when we are so deeply reminded that it is indeed the blood of Jesus that washes away our sins. How can we not worship in awe and wonderment? Praise His holy name!


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